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April's Journal



20/05/2019 [17:45] And here I am, back again! So, first things first, we ran the South Downs Way 50, and survived. Rachel, being awesome, came in about 14 minutes ahead of me, but I still managed to complete my second goal of the year and made it safely under the nine hour target I'd set myself. I achieved a 1 hour 15 minute improvement on last year, which is pretty darned good, I think. I have to say a good proportion of the plaudits should go to my coach for setting me a training programme that worked. I do wish I'd been able to keep up with Rachel, but she's in a class of her own this year. On either side of the race there was travel, relaxation, lovely food, and generally all the things that go towards making the preparation and decompression after a hard race go as well as possible. I don't think things could have gone better, really. About the only issue was that it was a bit too hot for me on the day, but with careful hydration and electrolyte management I did OK.

I came in to work from Croydon this morning and, having got the earlier train for the first time in a while was well placed to begin two V2V KVM to VMWare conversions, restart four VMs with lowered CPU allocations, and get on top of my email. When everything was under control I also managed to do most of the logistics for Rachel's birthday (presents), which has made me feel pretty great, too. Now I'm off home with a very heavy rucksack to watch the last Game of Thrones episode before Rachel arrives for a happy evening together. Tomorrow morning I'm in even earlier to do two more V2V conversions, but this time on ones with very large disks, which means it's going to take about 7 hours or so.

16/05/2019 [17:40] It was such a lovely morning when I woke at around 06:15 today, that I just decided to get up and get on with things. This meant that I arrived at work some time around about 07:20. I don't really know why. As it was I ended up getting a lot of things sorted out before around 09:00 when I headed over to the furthest-away server room to attempt to kickstart three servers. Three or so hours later and none of them were installed and I was feeling pretty peeved. I headed back to the office and got someone nice in Networks to make some changes to the FEX port profiles so that things might go a little better. As it was pretty much lunch time by that point I went out and ran comfortably for an hour as my last run before the NDW50 this weekend. Obviously my legs felt a little tired, and even when I wasn't swallowing flies I still coughed somewhat. We'll just have to see how Saturday goes. But anyway, back at the office I had a shower, ate my lunch, and then cycled back out to the server room to attempt the installs again. While the servers didn't install with the configuration I'd specified, they did at least install, so I was then able to do the actual network configuration I wanted them to have after the fact. It's unlikely these servers will ever be reinstalled as they are now, so it doesn't matter all that much, but it's still tremendously annoying that they wouldn't do what I wanted. One day I'm going to have to get more support from Red Hat to make it happen. But anyway, the OS is installed, they have the right LACP-style network configuration and they're ready for me to do things with on Monday next week once I've started some V2V operations from KVM to VMWare for one of our other teams. I said I'd do it on Monday, so I'm going to have to get the early train back from Croydon in the morning, which is going to be disappointing. Hopefully I'll be recovered enough from the race not to mind too much.

So, yes, the race is on Saturday (most of it). I'm taking tomorrow off so I can get everything ready, head to Croydon to meet Rachel and drop off a few things at her house, and then head to the South Downs to meet my 'Aunt' Evelyn for an evening meal and her very gracious offer of accommodation, not to mention her giving us a lift to race control early the next morning. Then it's 9-10 (hopefully no more!) of racing on Saturday, a taxi back to Croydon from the finish line, and then nothing at all on Sunday other than maybe a gentle walk and some Netflix. Then I'll be back here again on Monday for more of the usual. It's going to be a hard race on Saturday. I won't be fully over the cold, and Rachel is on very good form at the moment, so it's unlikely I'll be finishing next to her this time. Still, I've done almost all my training, I'm probably (maybe?) fitter than I was this time last year, and I'm hopefully determined enough to Just Keep Going when the tiredness builds. We'll see...

15/05/2019 [17:10] Woke up extremely hot this morning, following a very strange dream I'm again having any success at recalling more than vague memories of once awake. Nothing too traumatic though, just odd. Anyway, at work I did some useful patching before 09:00, then got down to a morning of sorting out various bits of stuff. I would have gone over to the server room that has three servers just primed for installation, but I had meetings right in the middle of the morning, so that put paid to that. I have blocked out a big chunk of tomorrow morning to go and do things though, so that should enable me to do it all then. Of course there'll be a few attempts unless (amazingly) I've got all three kickstart files right first time (which'll be amazing as all three of them are being installed with LACP teamed interfaces). No running today, which is good as I've been coughing quite a lot, and blowing my nose quite a lot too. Hopefully the fact that even though I've been drinking water most of the day my nose is not currently running means that maybe, perhaps, I'm already getting over it somewhat... But I doubt it. Still, one more gentle run tomorrow lunch time and then nothing until early Saturday morning, and most of the day. We had a meeting just now about a new piece of software my whole team is going to have to get to grips with. It seems pretty great, but quite complicated and there's going to have to be real buy-in from everyone to ensure we get the best out of it. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

But anyway, that's today done and dusted. I'm off home, after another sunny day that I saw very little of from my desk too far from the windows.

14/05/2019 [17:25] My cold is now fully in effect. This means a runny nose, a vaguely sore (but certainly very dry and scratchy when running) throat, and not quite as much energy as I would like (and likely not enough). I did run at lunch time. A hill reps session too, if you can credit it. And things... weren't terrible. I still feel very much that one hour of moderate running does not a nine-to-ten hour ultramarathon make, so there's every chance (and I would/do even when I'm in better health) I'll come unstuck on Saturday. It all boils down to just how much, and how much walking I end up doing rather than (slow) running. I'm trying to adjust my mindset/goals to "finish" and "finish somewhere close to last year's time", rather than "sub-9 hours" and "finish with Rachel", which is what I had for the last race. Unless something amazing happens, they aren't.

Anyway, today has been another busy day. It started off with me patching and rebooting five servers for one of our "Tier 1" services. I did it so quickly I actually forgot to reduce the CPU and RAM allocations (they're VMs). Still, everything went smoothly otherwise. Over the course of the morning I got three servers at one of the server rooms fully connected in terms of out-of-band management interfaces and normal network interfaces, which is great. I might even go over there tomorrow (after patching again tomorrow morning) and try to install them. It could be interesting as I'm sure there'll be issues with the adapter teaming, etc. Over lunch I did my run, which I've already mentioned, then this afternoon it was all about keeping things going, reading up on the new version of Red Hat Satellite which was just released, and having a good go at clearing down my inbox a bit. Now it's time to go home, before 17:30 for once!

13/05/2019 [18:15] I'm so busy at the moment, and I really wish I wasn't. This is because I appear to be coming down with the first stages of a very bad cold. Over the weekend, when I was running (although not as amazingly as Rachel, who got a new 5K PB at my local parkrun) I felt quite slow and unfit. By Sunday it was evident I had a very sore throat and a runny nose. We'll have to see how things develop, but if I have some kind of infection I could be in dire straites for the weekend's race. My coach got an infection just recently, tried to race a 5K and ended up having a cardiac arrest. I really don't want that to happen. He's OK, obviously, but it's certainly given me food for thought.

So anyway, Rachel was with me at home all weekend, which was truly marvellous. I really needed a weekend of just being in the house and not doing all that much. We ran, Rachel baked (and cooked, sometimes with my help) we went to Tesco, and generally did things relaxedly. She headed off for London this morning.

At work today I was on top of things for a while, coughing, trying not to worry about my throat, and getting things done. Then a mass of complicated things happened at at once and, although I've managed to get out of the far side of them with everything working (I think!), it's now well past 18:00 and I should have gone home over an hour ago. Luckily, I don't have to do tomorrow morning's patching before 08:00, so I'll get in at a sensible time and do it around 09:00 instead. In the meantime I need to drink a lot, and eat sensibly. Not to mention get plenty of rest. Right now I have no idea how I'm going to do on Saturday, but my goals are currently "finish" and "not too much worse than last year", rather than "keep up with Rachel" and "get under nine hours".

10/05/2019 [17:25] It doesn't feel like it, but today has actually been really productive. I spent the morning going back and forward between my desk and a server room, but eventually managed to get the three NetBackup servers there installed. I ended up not going the EFI route, which is a bit disappointing, but never mind. I'll spare you the details, but it required port changes, firewall changes, and lots of fiddling with the Kickstart profiles. At the end of all of that the USB key seemed to give up the ghost somewhat and went read-only. This lead to an 'entertaining' half an hour or so while I worked out how to make a USB stick do what I needed it to do with regard to being bootable and stuff. Whether or not this new stick is EFI-bootable or not I guess I'll find out in the future. In any case, I did a lot of work, tried not to get too stressed about some developers not quite 'getting it' with regard to the shift to OpenJDK from Oracle's JDK and just how out of date some of their older software is, and generally kept the place running. I'm off for the weekend now. Just a regular one, although for the first time in a while I'll be at home rather than elsewhere, and Rachel will be here too, which is lovely. Tomorrow I'll run, do parkrun with Rachel (by which I mean she'll race it at maximum pace and I won't see her after the first corner), and then run for another half an hour. Then on Sunday I'll be doing a three hour run, probably without Rachel as it's not on her plan. Other than that I think we might pop into town for some Waterstones reading and hot drinks/cakes, and... some other stuff that might appeal to us if we have the inclination. Obviously at some point we'll head to Tesco too. See you on Monday.

09/05/2019 [18:00] I didn't have to get in early this morning, which was nice. What was even nicer was being able to cycle in on my proper bike as, on the way home last night to collect my bike lock, I was able to collect my wheel as well as it'd been fixed earlier than expected. That meant cycling home with it in the rain, which was a bit hairy in places with the bad motor vehicle drivers, but ultimately successful, and great for this morning's commute to work. I got the patching and rebooting done (I do like VMs for not having to worry about firmware and boxes full of various kinds of devices), and then popped over to the closest server room to work out why one of my new physical servers (although I say new, they've been languishing in boxes and then in the rack for months waiting for me to do something with them) wasn't talking on the management network. It turned out that I'd had the ports on the FEX reported incorrectly to me, so Networks had given them the wrong port profiles. That sorted I turned my attention to the kickstarting process and hoped that I could get them kickstarted via EFI rather than legacy-BIOS methods. This turned out to be a wishful thought as I've spent the rest of the day fighting with my USB boot stick and EFI. It may be that I just can't do it over the DRAC and virtual media (it has to be presented as an ISO connected as a virtual optical drive rather than a USB hard drive) so I'm going to go back over there again tomorrow morning and see if I can't get the things (three servers in total) booted via me being there in person.

For now though I'm just going to go home and wait for Rachel to arrive so we can have a nice, quiet evening together.

08/05/2019 [16:40] Another day of getting up early. I think I slept a little better last night, but not amazingly so. I was awake (and had been for some time) when my alarm went off at 06:30, so I got up straight away. This meant that I ended up in work for around 07:20. I didn't need to have been as the five VMs I was patching and rebooted did so in about eight or so minutes. And five of those were the OS waiting to kill some processes which didn't get shut down due to some script issue. That left the remainder of the morning for me to head over to one of the remote server rooms and ensure that the MAC addresses I'd been quoted were the correct ones for the DRACs in two or three servers. They were, but after I'd done some BIOS and DRAC and PERC configuration on the spot, none of the servers was getting a DHCP-allocated IP address. Back in the office it turned out that not only did I not have the right incantation to run the Ansible to add the MAC addresses to the DHCP server, but I had to get to grips with my first ever experience of GPG and get the ports on the FEX assigned to the correct VLAN. And even then only one of the two DRACs seems to be responding. I'm going to have to go back over there tomorrow and see if there's a duff cable or something causing the issues. Since then I've been dealing with a mass of the usual day-to-day requests that now come into my inbox, gone for a run in the pouring rain (although I don't think the rain is the reason the run today was so hard), and carefully put off dealing with a few things that I just don't have the mental head space to deal with at the moment. In good news though, I don't have to be in early tomorrow morning as the request has come out to do my patching and rebooting at 09:00, not 'early'. So that's nice. I'm going to go home now, a little early, so I can pop by the bike shop and retrieve the lock I used to lock the wheel I left with them.

07/05/2019 [17:50] That's it for bank holidays for a little bit now, I think. Actually no, we have another one in three weeks, don't we? So yes, that was another long weekend. And I'm glad we had it. On Friday I headed to Croydon and met Rachel on the train there, which was nice. We even got to sit together despite it being crowded. We had a nice quiet evening together on the sofa. On Saturday she headed off into London to meet her sister-in-law while I ran out onto the Vanguard Way for an hour, turned around and ran home again. I have to say, it was a really good run. It's so nice to be able to run again without worrying about my (still not yet completely healed) foot. After I'd done that I did some work around the house (rehung some curtains and added blackout curtains), went shopping for food and a replacement lightbulb (fitted that, too), washed up, and even did a smidgen of weeding. When it was time I got the train into London and had dinner with Rachel and her brother's family (tasty burger in a place just off Piccadilly Circus). The food and the company pretty much made up for being in London on a Saturday evening and ending up in one of the most crowded parts of the Tube network as well as above ground. On Sunday morning Rachel and I took her nephew to Thorpe Park. I'm sorry to report that I didn't go on any of the roller coasters, but I did at least go on some of the water rides (although none of the truly wet ones). I just wasn't feeling the urge. I'm sure the nephew had a great time, although I think I lost some coolness points for not joining him and Rachel on the more speedy rides. We met up with his parents in Kings Cross that evening for a bit of food before I headed home, Rachel headed off to do an overnight run with someone she's going to be pacing for a 100 mile run in a few months, and Rachel's brother's family went back up north. I made it home in good time, but managed to break a spoke on my rear wheel in the process, which was frustrating. On Monday, after waiting for the gardener to arrive and begin mowing the jungle/lawn (I'm going to be retaining him, I think) I went out for another run, and despite it being on the flat (as opposed to the up and down of the Vanguard Way) didn't manage to do quite as much as I had before, and felt quite tired. I guess that was the accumulated tiredness from the day before. In any event, once that was done I did some housework and was then out at Tesco when Rachel arrived, full of yawns. I let her sleep for an hour or so in the afternoon, then took her for a walk to keep her awake for the rest of the day/evening. She managed about half of a Top Gear (old presenters) before falling asleep on the sofa, so we went to bed.

This morning I was quite grumpy when the alarm went off as I'd had another bad night's sleep. Rachel managed to cheer me up before she left, because she's amazing. I needed to be in work early for patching, so cycled past the bike shop with my wheel and locked it to the fence outside before cycling off. After I'd finished the morning's patching and rebooting (which didn't go well initially; the server wouldn't boot afterwards until I'd nearly given up trying things, then it did) I called the bike shop and hopefully they've unlocked the wheel and taken it in. Disappointingly, they won't be able to fix it until Saturday, so I'm stuck riding my backup/station bike for the remainder of this week.

I've had an incredibly busy day today. Although the afternoon was less so, I spent the morning feeling like I've been bounced from pillar to post without respite. I have managed to do some useful stuff for people (DNS fixes, building VMs, writing Ansible roles, etc.), but still had to put someone off until next week with regard to something which is currently intermittently broken. Now though, it's home time.

03/05/2019 [16:15] Just a quick one to tell you about today and the weekend. Nothing much happened today. I'm actually kidding; tons happened. I was basically either in meetings, running around trying to find and talk to people at their desks, or fixing things at my desk. I'm just a bit whirled around by today. I'm glad it's over, and the week, too.

I'm now off to Croydon to see Rachel. I'll be at her house on Saturday while she's out with her sister-in-law and her brother and nephew ride the rails around London's Underground network. Then I'll be meeting them all in London in the evening for a meal. In the meantime I'll be running for two hours, probably on the Vanguard Way a bit. On Sunday Rachel and I take the nephew to Thorpe Park for the day. Hopefully the weather will be nice. Then I head home on the Sunday evening so I'm home for the gardener who's coming to appraise the garden and mow the overgrown lawn for me. Rachel should arrive some time on the Monday afternoon. Then it'll be Tuesday, and an early start for patching and rebooting.

02/05/2019 [15:05] I had some weird dreams this morning, but I don't really remember them any more. I think they had a theme, but I'm damned if I can remember what that was either. Anyway, I slept fairly well, so getting up at 06:30 wasn't too much of a chore. After some brief exercising, shower, making my lunch, breakfast, etc. I headed out of the door and got to work in time to do all the patching I had scheduled for this morning. Everything went perfectly apart from one physical server which refused to boot, and one virtual server which repeatedly got stuck when finishing its boot. The physical server I fixed by flipping a few bits in the BIOS (it'd had a BIOS update), and the virtual server I fixed by going into single user mode and getting rid of a very, very stale NFS mount it still had in its settings. After that the day settled down into one of doing all the usual things that need doing, although I did have to spend about ten minutes with someone from the Networks team getting printing to certain printers working again. I think by doing that early in the morning I saved him a lot of stress and emails from other people when they found they couldn't print either. Over lunch I went for another run and found my foot to be almost OK, although it did feel fairly uncomfortable when I was walking back from the shower to my desk with just my trainers on and no socks. Still, it's improving a little bit every day otherwise. Hopefully training can get back to normal and I'll be as ready as I can be for the race itself.

I'm off now as I've been early and stayed late a good few times in the last week or so. Avengers: Endgame is on the cards, I think.

01/05/2019 [17:00] I ran this morning! I actually honest-to-goodness got up early and ran for an hour before work. This was great for a variety of running-related reasons, but also because it meant I had a shower to wash out all of the hair that'd not come out after I had my hair cut yesterday after leaving work early. I meant to have one when I got home, but as soon as I got back I decided to get on with weeding the front area of the house and expected to be hot and sweaty after that and kill two birds with one stone. Only I didn't get hot and/or sweaty, so forgot to have a shower. Only a little bit of shorn hair on my pillow this morning, which was easily gotten rid of with a shake. The run though, the run went... fairly well. I am still favouring the foot and running more on the outside edge of it, rather than planting it properly. This will almost certainly mean left ankle discomfort, and probably right hip discomfort as I land more heavily on that side. Hopefully as the cut heals more and doesn't give me as much discomfort when I press/land on it my gait will return to 'normal' (I doubt it has ever been 100% correct). So yes, running again. I can do at least an hour, and especially if it's not on the road. Whether or not I can manage an ultra run over 9+ hours remains to be seen. But that's also 17 days of further healing (and getting back up to training peak again) away. So I guess we'll see what we see. I'll run again tomorrow lunch time (I hope), and then again on Friday. That should give my foot a good chance to see what it has to put up with.

At work today I've been constantly out of my chair in mini-meetings, or looking for people to ask questions of (or give information to). Luckily there hasn't been all that much to do, other than one thing I keep trying to brace my boss about, but he hasn't been free. I'm going to try and see him now before I head home. I'm in early tomorrow morning to patch many, many servers. Hopefully that'll all go without a hitch.